House of Commons Library

Betting shops: licensing and planning issues

Published Friday, January 19, 2018

This Library briefing paper looks at licensing and planning issues relating to betting shops in Great Britain.

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There are 8,502 betting shops in Great Britain (Gambling Commission statistics, November 2017).

Licensing issues

Under the Gambling Act 2005, a betting shop needs an operating licence, issued by the Gambling Commission, and a premises licence, issued by the local licensing authority. Unless it is a very small operation, personal licences, also issued by the Gambling Commission, will be needed for certain staff.

Objections can be raised against an application for a new premises licence by interested parties (eg people living close by) and responsible authorities (eg the police). It is also possible to trigger a review of an existing licence.

The only objections that are likely to be relevant are those that relate to the Gambling Act’s licensing objectives, or that raise issues under a licensing policy statement or the Gambling Commission’s guidance or codes of practice.

The Act’s three licensing objectives are:

  • preventing gambling from being a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder or being used to support crime;
  • ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way; and 
  • protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling

Planning issues

Concerns have been expressed too about local planning authorities’ ability to control the number of betting shops on the high street. The rules on permitted development - under which, in certain circumstances, buildings with a range of high street uses could be converted into betting shops with no planning permission being required – were changed in April 2015.  Change of use to a betting shop now requires planning permission, but concerns remain that clusters of betting shops, particularly in deprived areas, affect high street vitality. 

Related Library Briefing Paper: Fixed odds betting terminals (CBP 6946).

 

Commons Briefing papers SN06919

Authors: John Woodhouse; Gabrielle Garton Grimwood

Topic: Gambling

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